Nothing to do

by April Peng

“It's better for me anyway. This seat. Better for me.” The old man muttered. He slumped exhaustedly against the window of the bus. His face, like last week’s newspaper, crumpled and etched with lines of old news and past experiences. “It's better for me”, he repeated. 

 

“Where you headed?” he began.
“Home.”
“Me too. Home. I’m headed home.” His eyes resembled murky grey clouds. “About bedtime I should think. For me anyway.” He smiled. Though it never reached his eyes. Too much wisdom one should think, it fogs up the smile in people’s eyes. “There's not much to do. I've got nothing to do. I will sit in my chair. Yes.” His gaze wondered out the window. “Nothing more to do.” 

 

The sky was clear outside, as it had been for the past couple of days. It was the end of a tiresomely long winter. He fell silent as he observed the passing of trees, which had only just begun to blossom. Birds returned from the south. Children returning from school. 

 

“In time to avoid the rain. I should hope. I'm headed home.” He remained observing the world. “It's going to rain tonight. And tomorrow. And Saturday. Horrible weather.”
“Yes.” 
He brought his eyes back to the present, almost forgetting he was engaged in conversation. “Do you have the newspaper? I'd like to read the newspaper” 
“No, sorry.” 
“Pity. I'd have liked to have read the newspaper.” 
“This is my stop.” 
“I’d liked to have gone to the seaside you see. That's also a pity.” He continued. “Although I wouldn't have liked to fly. Perhaps I'd have taken the travel coach. Though never mind that, I would have liked to be anywhere at all.” He paused. “But no. Perhaps I wouldn't have. I would prefer to be at home. Home. I'm headed home.” 

 

You may think this man to be peculiar, for I certainly did. However one often are when they having nothing more to do. He insisted in remaining in conversation despite my best efforts to avoid it. But perhaps, he just wanted something to do. One more thing to do. Before there was nothing to do.

 

That night, it rained.